In 1997, Darlie Routier was convicted of murdering two of her young sons, and Lakewood native Toby Shook was one of the assistant district attorneys who helped prosecute the case. Routier is one of six women on death row, where she has been for over 20 years.
Last weekend, he sat down with Texas Monthly Executive Editor and crime writer Skip Hollandsworth to discuss the case at Texas Monthly’s event, The Edge of Texas.
Earlier this year, ABC released a documentary called “The Last Defense” investigating the case. Routier has maintained her innocence, and claims that she awoke in the middle of the night with a man looming over her with a knife. She says she was able to fight him off, but not before he stabbed and killed her two sons, Devon, 7 and Damon, 4.
Shook grew up in Lakewood and attended Woodrow Wilson High School before working for the district attorney. He tried some of the most famous cases in Dallas county while rising to be the number two man before running for district attorney and losing to Craig Watkins. He is now a defense attorney at the firm Shook and Gunter.
He was assistant district attorney at the time of the murders and helped build the case against Routier. In the discussion with Hollandsworth, he noted several inconsistencies in Routier’s story. Sometimes she said she didn’t recognize the assailant, while other times she claimed she knew who it was. There was no disturbance on the window sill or gate where the killer would have had to discuss. and fibers similar to the slashed screen that was allegedly used to enter the home were found on a serrated knife still in the knife block in the kitchen. The state’s case was that Routier staged the break in to cover up the murders.
Routier lacked typical defensive wounds, there was nothing taken from the house and Routier noted several times during the 911 call that she had picked up the knife, which she said she shouldn’t have done. Shook noted how strange it would be for a woman whose children had just been murdered to be so worried about tampering with the evidence.
The couple was in financial trouble, and had discussed divorce prior to the murders. In a bizarre moment, Routier and friends laughed and sprayed silly string at the children’s grave just eight days after the murder while celebrating a deceased child’s birthday. Routier wrote, “Forgive me for what I am about to do” in her diary before the murders.
A bloody sock was found down the alley out in the open with traces of blood from both sons, but the sock was from inside the Routier’s home. “These are more signs of staging,” Shook says.
There is also an untested bloody fingerprint on the coffee table, and there are those who doubt the police investigation and proclaim Routier’s defense. Numerous groups exist, with one Facebook group containing over 2,000 members, listing their issues with the case and the police work. They question many of the conclusions of the prosecution in detailed posts. One notes up to 12 alleged unidentified finger prints found throughout the house. “I don’t wake up thinking she didn’t do it,” Shook says of the case.
Routier is still on the death row, and is in the appeal process. DNA testing is being done on evidence to obtain more clarity on whose blood and prints are where. Read Hollandswoth’s 2002 Texas Monthly story, “Maybe Darlie Did’t Do It,” here.
“She should get her full appeal,” Shook says. “Any avenue should be explored.”
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